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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Clean cooking: Why science, policy on household energy must go hand-in-hand

Amid rising energy prices, key stakeholders in Nigeria’s household energy sector agreed to work together to strengthen engagement between scientific, policy and societal actors on some of the burning issues around clean cooking.

Participants at the ICEED high-level policy dialogue

Rising from a high-level policy dialogue themed “Deploying State-of-the art Evidence for Household Energy Policy Making in Nigeria”, researchers and policy makers agreed that achieving the Federal Government of Nigeria’s goals of universal access to affordable, accessible and clean household energy depend on the interaction between science and policy.

As a first step in strengthening the science and policy partnership, the International Centre for Energy, Environment and Development (ICEED), in collaboration with researchers from the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom and the University of Ibadan, convened a roundtable with key policy makers to deepen exchanges between science and policy actors.

In his welcome remarks, Ewah Eleri, the Executive Director of ICEED, expressed concern over the current rise in the price of cooking gas.

He said: “Prices of LPG have quadrupled in the past two years, sending more households down the energy ladder as they fall back to wood and charcoal as sources of cooking energy. To address this, the government must show commitment to enforce a domestic obligation on upstream gas companies to give priority to the domestic LGP market before exporting made-in-Nigeria cooking gas to the international market.

“Secondly, it runs against the Federal Government’s own Energy Transition Plan that we should price made-in-Nigeria cooking gas in US Dollars. The dollarisation of cooking gas produced in Nigeria only makes this life-saving product unfordable to households,” he cautioned.

Joshua Gana, Deputy Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Power, emphasised the role of the National Assembly in ensuring that polices receive the required legislative support.

He said: “The Committee on Power is prepared to work with both the scientific community and the executive in developing an effective legislative framework for achieving universal access to clean cooking. We therefore call for partnership with these critical stakeholders in achieving this important goal.”

In his introduction, Dr. Mike Clifford of the University of Nottingham emphasised the need to strengthen clean cooking research and ensure the availability of credible evidence base for policy making in the sector.

Clifford said: “it is important to identify technical, financial and institutional drivers for reinforcing the linkages between science and policy and impacts on society. There is a lot that can be achieved with collaborative research and the creation of platforms to bridge the existing gap between research and policy”.

In her presentation, Dr. Deborah Ayodele-Olajire, a researcher and lecturer at the University of Ibadan, took participants on a tour of the evolution of clean cooking research, from a focus on health to issues of the environment and the empowerment of women. She presented the state of the evidence and some of the key milestones and debates in both research and policy.

She stated: “Public policy must be nuanced enough to include issues of transparency, inclusion of key stakeholders, developing a clear strategy to promote upscaling, enhancing local content in the value chain, developing tools for expanding access to urban and rural areas as well as promoting transparency in the implementation of government policy. Stakeholders must decide the purpose for public sector engagement in promoting access and the choice between private sector solutions and government-led expansion of access.”

According to Dr. Temilade Sesan, a lecturer at the Centre for Petroleum, Energy Economics and Law at the University of Ibadan, “It is clear that some of the greatest challenges facing the clean cooking sector in Nigeria is the rising costs of fuels. We must address the issues of affordability and the role of the state versus market forces in expanding access to clean cooking. Secondly, it is obvious that our cooking culture deserves both research and policy attention. These issues call for continuous collaboration and engagement across research disciplines,” she concluded.

The high-level policy dialogue was attended by senior officials of the Federal Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Power, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Women Affairs, Energy Commission of Nigeria, Standards Organisation of Nigeria, National Bureau of Statistics, Nigeria Energy Support Programme, the Senate, House of Representatives, and civil society organisations among others.

Important dignitaries included Dr. Oladoyin Odubanjo, Executive Secretary, Nigerian Academy of Science; Godfrey Ogbemudia, Programme Manager at the European Union; and Dr. Kabiru Umar of the Senate Committee on Ecology and Climate Change.

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